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isabel bayrakdarian

Save the Date: the Canadian Opera Company’s 2012/13 Season

The Four Seasons Centre is sure to fill up for the COC's seven 2012/13 productions

The title of this post is a little misleading. In actual fact, we encourage you to save multiple dates—the Canadian Opera Company this morning announced its 2012/13 season lineup of seven classic and modern works. With so many big-name Canadian singers and directors headlining the program, we can no doubt look forward to an amazing few months of drama and music.

Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore kicks off the season at the Four Seasons Centre on September 29. The story of a vengeful gypsy and her son’s romance with a noblewoman has captivated audiences for more than 150 years—the COC’s production is likely to continue that trend. In particular we’re counting on a fiery appearance by Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas in the lead role of Manrico.

Later, look for arguably Canada’s most famous opera singer, Ben Heppner, when he performs his signature role in Wagner’s grandiose saga Tristan und Isolde. The company’s first show for a shiny new 2013 (opening January 29), it’s conducted by celebrated Czech maestro Jiri Belohlavek and helmed by world-renowed director Peter Sellars, whose incorporation of imagery by video artist Bill Viola makes this staging truly contemporary.

Speaking of acclaimed directors, following on the heels of his theatrical work for the Canadian Stage Company’s Cruel and Tender (on now), Atom Egoyan takes another break from film with an adaptation of Salome (opening April 21, 2013) Richard Strauss’s one-act opera based on Oscar Wilde’s play of the same name.

The best is perhaps saved for last when the COC’s 63rd season wraps up in May 2013 with Francis Poulenc’s haunting Dialogues des Carmelites, said to contain one of opera’s most devastating yet memorable finales. Toronto-born, internationally celebrated director Robert Carsen returns to the Four Seasons Centre for a third consecutive year (his recent productions of Orfeo ed Euridice and Iphigenia in Tauris were hailed by critics and audiences alike). The bar is raised even higher thanks to a cast that includes a marquee pair of Canadian sopranos, Isabel Bayrakdarian and Adrianne Pieczonka.

Hot Date: The Trials of Orpheus

Photo by Dan Rest/Lyric Opera of Chicago

MAY 8 TO 28 The Canadian Opera Company welcomes back Toronto-born director Robert Carsen, who brings his acclaimed production of Orfeo ed Euridice to this city. The popular work by Christoph Willibald Gluck follows mythic Orfeo, who travels to hell and back in search of his beloved Euridice. Renowned American countertenor Lawrence Zazzo and Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian perform the lead roles of this star-crossed story of loss and redemption. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $62 to $281; call 416-363-8231 or visit here for showtimes and tickets.

Hot Dates: Magic Flute Conjures Melodies

Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian stars in the COC's Magic Flute (photo by Michael Agyan)

JANUARY 29 TO FEBRUARY 25 Fall in love all over again with the majestic music and timeless sorcery-tinged tale of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. A brand-new production by the Canadian Opera Company starring Michael Schade and Isabel Bayrakdarian as would-be lovers Tamino and Pamina, this playfully mystical exploration of wisdom, nature and devotion is sure to delight both seasoned opera fans and newcomers to the genre. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, $22 to $281; call 416-363-8231 or click here for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

Weekend Roundup, June 18 to 20

This Father’s Day weekend is bursting with food, fun and festivals. Dad’s not the only one who’s going to have a great time!

Friday: Chortle knowingly as Jon Stewart points out what's wrong with the world.

Friday, June 18
Celebrate the proud heritage of Armenia, as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra—accompanying the beautiful voice of Isabel Bayrakdarian—fills Roy Thomson Hall with the strains of Ravel’s Shéhérazade and other related classical works.

Amidst the sprawling cityscape, The Power Plant offers an opportunity to philosophically reconnect with nature thanks to its mixed-media exhibition, Adaptation: Between Species. Enjoy a lakeside barbecue and music at tonight’s opening event.

Revel in the spry wit and piercing political barbs of Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who takes to the stage at Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort. After the show, check out the nearby nightlife and get a breathtaking look at the falls.

Saturday: See art on 401 Richmond's green roof and more (photo by veggiefrog)

Saturday, June 19
Familiarize yourself with the artists whose studios and galleries pack the 401 Richmond building, Toronto’s most creative address. This afternoon, partake in a free tour of the space and chat with the gallery owners and exhibiting artists during Brickolage Tour Series.

Sip 70-plus exquisite local vintages poured by the winemakers themselves at the annual Ontario Wine Fair at Café Taste. More than 20 wineries are participating in this event, which also offers the opportunity to nosh on 30 Ontario artisan cheeses.

“Whataya want from me?” asks glam American Idol singer-songwriter Adam Lambert in his similarly titled hit single. Make sure he hears your response at his Molson Canadian Amphitheatre show tonight. Expect to be treated to a number of cuts from Lambert’s upcoming debut album, For Your Entertainment.

Sunday: Get A.R. Rahman in your sights

Sunday, June 20
Treat dad to one of many options for a Father’s Day lunch. Amuse boasts an alfresco three-course meal served family-style at their Shared Table event; or call Casa Loma to reserve a table at its Father’s Day Royal Brunch Buffet. If you’re set on Italian, savour a Taste of Little Italy—the College Street party features numerous participating restaurants. And for a diverse range of nibbles—affordably priced at only $5 each—head to Queen’s Park to try 1,000 Tastes of Toronto.

Make it a Father’s Day dad will always remember with a war re-enactment, hearty ribs and fun for the whole family. Black Creek Pioneer Village presents the Battle of Black Creek—a lively re-creation of an 18th century skirmish for control of Upper Canada. Top of the invigorating spectacle with barbecued ribs or a tour of the Black Creek Historic Brewery.

Experience the musical talents of Oscar- and Grammy-winner A.R. Rahman. Known for his Slumdog Millionaire score, the Indian composer teams up with creative director Amy Tinkham (creator of concerts for Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys) in Jai Ho: The Journey Home Concert at the Air Canada Centre, employing international musicians and dancers.

Hot Date: Bayrakdarian’s Back

Isabel Bayrakdarian (photo by Dario Acosta)

JUNE 18 Soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian joins the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in a production of Ravel’s Shéhérazade—part of an evening of music and culture honouring Armenian heritage. Peter Oundjian conducts a program that also includes Khachaturian’s “Waltz from Masquerade,” “Three Armenian Songs” and “Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia.” Roy Thomson Hall, 8 p.m., $44 to $165; call 416-593-4828 to purchase.